Commentary on the Apocalypse
(Recorded by Himself, translated by Clarus, published with comments by Beykirch)
We must now pass to Holzhauser’s Commentary on the Apocalypse. This Commentary, written in Latin, and which remained in manuscript for a century and a half, was first printed at Bamberg and at Wurzburg in the year 1784. An able review of the Latin original two years ago, in the Historisch-politische Blatter, first called the attention of the German public to this most remarkable work; and the sensation thereby created, induced M. Clarus to publish a German translation of the Commentary the following year. It is from this translation we shall speak of the book.
A learned theologian, after perusing this Commentary, candidly declared, that “after Holzhauser all commentators on the Apocalypse appeared to him to have written like children.” And in truth there is an earnestness, an unction, a fullness and depth of remark, a certain luminous minuteness of explanation, which forcibly convince the reader that Holzhauser wrote according to an internal light, and that the same Spirit which dictated St. John’s mysterious book, had deigned to unseal it to his commentator.
“Even in leaving out of consideration,” says the German critic above referred to, “the predictions as to the Future contained in Holzhauser’s Commentary, we cannot but be surprised at the manner in which it appreciates the Past. The book is written in a simple and artless style; but we there find a great depth of thought and a knowledge of history, which is quite beyond the author’s times, and is the more striking, as this holy priest was neither a scholar nor a philosopher, nor were his intellectual qualities above (Beykirch, p. 137) the average standard. [See Historisch-politische Blatter, Vol. XXI.] The following is the fundamental idea of his commentary upon the Apocalypse.
The seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks which St. John saw, when he was ravished in spirit, represent the seven epochs in the church’s history from her foundation to the last judgment. To those periods correspond again the seven churches of Asia Minor, to which the word of the Lord in the vision is addressed, as well as the seven days of creation, the seven ages of the world before Jesus Christ, and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. Obliged to confine ourselves to a very short analysis, we will merely point out the heads of Holzhauser’s Prophesies, and we will leave the appreciation of their correctness to those who have meditated on the historic development of Christianity.
THE FIRST EPOCH, which he calls that of “SEED-TIME,” (status seminationis), comprehends the period that elapsed from the preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles, down to the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul under Nero. [67, 68 AD] THE SECOND EPOCH, called the period of “IRRIGATION,” (status irrigationis), is that of the persecutions, which lasted until Constantine. [68 – 337 AD] THE THIRD [EPOCH], which extends from that emperor down to Charlemagne, is the period of “ILLUMINATION,” (status illuminationis.) [338 – 800 AD] THE FOURTH [EPOCH], which dates from the re-establishment of the western empire under Charlemagne, and terminates with the age of Charles V. and Leo X., is the time of “PEACE,” (the status pacificus.) [800 – cir. 1520 AD] THE FIFTH EPOCH, which commences with the birth of Protestantism, and wherein we still live, is the state of“TRIBULATION,” (status afflictionis.) [The Protestant movement… is popularly considered to have begun in 1517 when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism]
“This,” says Holzhauser, “is a state of trouble, desolation, humiliation, and poverty for the church. We may with just reason call it a state of purification, in which the Lord Jesus Christ has sifted His wheat, and will sift it again by wars, by seditions, by famines, by epidemics, and other scourges, by the tribulation and the poverty which He will suffer to weigh on the Latin church, by means of heretics and bad Christians, who will take from her the greater part of her bishoprics and countless monasteries, especially the wealthier ones. She is oppressed even by Catholic princes, and despoiled by means of taxes, imposts, and other extortions; so that we may say, in groaning with the prophet Jeremiah, ‘The queen of nations hath been placed under the yoke.’ The church is (Beykirch, p. 138) become poor and miserable, because she hath been calumniated by heretics, because her ministers are despised by bad Christians, who render them neither honor nor respect. By all these means God will sift His wheat; He will cast the chaff away to be burnt, and will gather the wheat into His barns. This fifth state of the church is the state of tribulation, the state of apostasy, full of miseries of every kind. Few will be spared by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. We shall see kingdom rise against kingdom; empires will be divided in themselves, and brought to desolation; principalities and monarchies will be overturned, and almost the whole world will sink into poverty. The greatest desolation will reign over the earth. All this hath in part been already accomplished (1656 AD); a part remains yet to be accomplished. These things will come to pass by the very just judgment of God, because of the accumulated mass of our iniquities, whereof our fathers and ourselves have filled up the measure, at the moment when the mercy of Almighty God awaited our doing penance. The fifth day of creation, on which the earth brought forth birds, fishes, and beasts of the field, is a type of this epoch, wherein men, like to the birds of the air and the fishes of the water, give themselves up to license, sink to the level of the brute, and wallow in lust. In this lamentable state of the church divine and human laws are without force, and made of light account; the doctrines and precepts of the church are despised; ecclesiastical discipline is not better observed by the priests, than political order is maintained by the people. Every one, like the beasts of the field, believes what he pleases, and doth what he wills.
“The correspondence of this period with the fifth age of the ancient world, from Solomon down to the Babylonian captivity, is extremely striking. Then Israel fell into idolatry, and Judah and Benjamin were alone true to the covenant. So in the times we speak of, a large portion of the Catholic population has fallen away from the true church; while a small number only of good Christians has survived. The Jewish state was then ruined, and was harassed and oppressed by heathens; so also has the holy Roman empire of Germany been ravaged and dismembered by the neighboring nations.
“To this [fifth] age has been accorded the [SPIRITUAL] GIFT OF COUNSEL; for counsel did the church need in order to counteract such fearful calamities, and to uphold the Catholic faith. This gift of counsel was revealed in the Council of Trent, in the institution of the Society of Jesus, by whose exertions, learning, and sanctity, the Catholic faith and the church throughout Europe, were rescued from destruction.
“A type of this epoch is the Church of Sardis—a word that signifies the beginning of beauty; for the calamities of this period will be the beginning of a better time. Divine providence hath wisely ordained that the church which He will cause to endure unto the end of the world, should be moistened from time to time (Beykirch, p. 139) with the waters of tribulation, as the gardener watered his garden in the time of drought.”(Beykirch, pp. 21-23).
In the next passage we leave what the Indians call the Caliyuga, or present age of misery and perturbation, and soar with the prophet into those pure serene times, which will witness the complete and glorious triumph of Christ’s Church upon earth. As these different epochs are not separated one from the other by any harsh dissonance; but the concluding tones of the succeeding period; so the conclusion of the fifth age will be marked by great conquests of the church. And of these conquests we think we already discern the beginning.
“THE SIXTH PERIOD of the church the (status consolationis)—time of “CONSOLATION” begins with the HOLY POPE and the POWERFUL EMPEROR, and terminates with the birth of Anti-christ. (Revelations, 3: 7, 10.)
“This will be an age of solace, wherein God will console His church after the many mortifications and afflictions she had endured in the fifth period. For all nations will be brought to the unity of the true Catholic faith.
“A type of this period was the sixth age of the old world, from the deliverance of the Israelites out of the Babylonian captivity, and the rebuilding of the city and of the temple of Jerusalem, down to the coming of Christ. As God gladdened His people by the rebuilding of the temple and of the holy city; as all kingdoms and nations were subjected to the Roman empire; and Caesar August, the most powerful and excellent monarch, after vanquishing all his enemies, gave for fifty-six years, peace to the world; so will God pour out upon His church, that witnessed in the fifth period nought be affliction, the most abundant consolations. But this happy age will be ushered in under the following circumstances. When all is desolated with war; when the church and the priests must pay taxes; when Catholics are oppressed by heretics, and their faithless fellow-religionists; when monarchs are murdered; subjects oppressed; when riches are extirpated; when every thing concurs to bring about the establishment of Republics; then will the hand of the Almighty produce a marvelous change, according to human notions seemingly impossible. For that STRONG MONARCH, (whose name is to be “the help of God,” [ John? is a masculine proper name, cir. 1160, from Medieval Latin, Johannes, from Late Latin, Joannes, from Greek, Ioannes, from Hebrew, Yohanan (in full y’hohanan) literally, “Jehovah has favored,”from hanan “he was gracious.” https://dictionary.reference.com/browse/john?s=t ] Other prophets have given the name of the “GREAT MONARCH as“Henry.” Henry is from French, Henri, from Late Latin, Henricus, from German, Heinrich, from Old High German, Heimerich, literally,”the ruler of the house,” from heim “home” + rihhi “ruler.” https://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Henry?s=t ] will, as the envoy of the Almighty, root up these Republics. He will subject all things to himself, and will zealously assist the true Church of Christ. All heresies will be banished into hell; the Turkish empire will be overthrown to its foundations, and his dominion will extend from east to west. All nations will come, and will worship the Lord in the one true Catholic Faith. Many righteous men will (Beykirch, p. 140) flourish, and many learned men will arise. Men will love justice and righteousness, and peace will dwell on the whole earth. For the Omnipotent will bind Satan for many years, until the advent of him who is to come,–the son of perdition.
“In respect to perfection, this period corresponds to the sixth day of creation, on which God created man after His own image, and subjected to him, as lord of creation, all creatures of the earth. So will man be now a true image of God, (in righteousness and holiness), and the STRONG MONARCH will rule over all nations.
“The sixth gift of the SPIRIT, THE FEAR OF THE LORD, will in this period be poured out upon the church; for men will fear the Lord their God, keep His commandments, and serve him with their whole heart. The scriptures will be understood after one uniform fashion, without contradiction and error, so that all will marvel they had so long misunderstood the clear sense of holy writ. The sciences will be multiplied and completed, and men will receive extraordinary illumination in natural, as well as divine knowledge.” (Beykirch, p. 27 – 29).
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